Arizona voters may decide on statewide gaming expansion


PHOENIX (AP) ? Voters may get a chance to decide whether to let horse and dog racetracks have slot machines.

Senate President Randall Gnant, R-Scottsdale, introduced legislative referendum Feb. 4 that would allow tracks to run their own video slot machines.

Large racetracks like the Turf Paradise in north Phoenix would automatically become the biggest casinos in the state.

The measure must first pass the Legislature over the opposition of Gov. Jane Hull and the state's 21 Indian tribes.

"The people of Arizona have been clear that they don't want gaming expanded in the state," said David LaSarte, the executive director of the Arizona Indian Gaming Association. "Trying to turn racetracks into casinos is holding us hostage to a special interest."

Gnant's bill could draw an estimated $100 million in new revenue for the tracks, which would be required to pay 30 percent in taxes to the state.